Bunnies are so dang cute! Carrot-munching, cuddly, low-maintenance little fluff balls who are happiest living among your daisies in the back garden. Right? Definitely wrong! If you are going to keep your bunny happy and healthy, here are some myths that need to be debunked!
Myth #1: Rabbits love to be held
Though most rabbits don’t mind an occasional ear rub or back scratch, being picked up and cuddled is most certainly off many bunny’s wish lists. As prey animals whose key to survival is to run and hide, being swooped off the ground and held tightly makes them feel like they are being attacked. Holding a rabbit should only be done when absolutely necessary and very, very carefully. If you surprise your bunny with a sudden bear hug, they can easily panic and hurt themselves. Most rabbits will instinctually kick out their powerful hind legs and twist to avoid being held; this can cause them to fall from your arms and break their back or legs. Some will freeze with fear. They may even have a heart attack if not properly adjusted to being handled.
Myth #2: Rabbits only eat vegetables
Despite what every cartoon bunny claims, rabbits need to eat more than just carrots. Rabbit diets are complex and varied. Carrots, in particular, should only be offered as a special treat; they are high in carbohydrates and sugar, which can cause digestive issues. They require a balanced diet of unlimited high-quality hay, some leafy greens and/or veggies and a small amount of good quality pellets along with fresh water.
Myth #3: Rabbits are low-maintenance pets
Not only should you bring your rabbit to a vet for regular, annual vet visits… they need a vet that is specialised in exotic pets. All rabbits need a yearly vaccination and will need their teeth, eyes, skin and weight checked. All rabbits should also be spayed or neutered. They are prone to illnesses such as GI stasis, infections, bladder stones and cancer. Regular visits to the vet can keep these at bay and help your bun live a longer, happier life.
Myth #4: Rabbits should live in hutches or a small cage
All rabbits require space and lots of it! Their home, whether indoors or outdoors should be large enough for them to run, jump, stretch out and frolic their hearts out. They should also have a quiet bedroom area with cosy bedding such as hay or comfy cushioned beds. Rabbits love comfort! They also need a litterbox for their toilet.
Indoor enclosures like pens should be kept in a safe area away from other pets as they may not appreciate their bunny roommate as much as you do. Outdoor bunnies should have a safe, secure home that protects them from predators and the weather.
Myth #5: Rabbits are gentle pets and do not scratch or bite
Those teeth are long and sharp, and bunnies definitely know how to use them! If put into a situation where the rabbit feels threatened, they will bite, kick and scratch their way to safety. Properly handling and approaching them quietly will minimise these habits, but always remember that an errant nip can happen anytime!
Myth #6 Rabbits don’t need company
Rabbits are social critters by nature. In the wild, rabbits live in large groups called colonies where there is safety in numbers. Domesticated bunnies get depressed and lonely if left to their own devices with no playmate to keep them company. However, you shouldn’t just put two rabbits together and assume they will be best friends. Rabbits should probably be bonded to prevent stress, fights or illness. Bonding rabbits can take some time, but it is essential and gratifying when you catch your two buns canoodling or grooming each other.
Myth #7: Rabbits don’t live long
Rabbits are not a short-term commitment. Healthy rabbits can easily live 7-12+ years. Did you know more mature bunnies can be just as playful and mischievous as baby bunnies. The rescues are full of bun-derful adult bunnies right now all waiting for their furever home. So when it comes to adopting a bunny, don’t go by their age, as age is nothing but a number!
Myth #8: Rabbits can’t be litterbox trained
Rabbits are actually very clean little pets. They can be easily litterbox trained and tend to have tidy housing habits. They also groom themselves regularly to maintain a shiny coat… though a thorough regular brushing is necessary to help keep the amount of fur they digest to a minimum.
Myth #9: Rabbits, cats and dogs can’t be kept together
Dogs, cats and rabbits can certainly live happily under one roof under a watchful eye. The key to a safe and happy environment for all pets is proper introduction, patience, and attention to interactions. Not all dogs or cats may see a prey animal as a household member. They should be very closely monitored for signs of aggression. Also, the rabbit should never be allowed to free roam with other pets unsupervised… even if your bun is best buds with Fido; instinct can always override training.
In short, rabbits should be treated with the same love you’d give any other pet! With vet care, proper nutrition, safe housing, patience and respect, your bunny will live happily as a family member for a long time.